The Fresno Unified School District has a big reason to celebrate. Despite tough times and budget cuts, new state test results show students are making progress.
Dozens of schools have made significant gains in test scores. This success isn't only helping shape the future of students, but the city as a whole.
Even at his young age, 9-year-old Francisco Cornejo Cruz has big dreams. He wants to go to college and has thought about possibly attending Harvard, Yale or Fresno State.
The Lowell Elementary School 4th grader knows his path to college starts with the education he gets right now.
He says, "I am really proud to be in the school that really cares about us that doesn't just care about the points that cares about what we study, what we learn."
Students at Lowell Elementary School have recently made huge academic strides. This year, the school earned an Academic Performance Index (API) score of 750 on the California Standards Test. That's a gain of 42 points from last year.
"It was kind of easy, because I had a lot of studying and my teacher was really good," says Francisco.
"Our teachers have been working in the summer, after school, building common lessons, common assessments, analyzing data. And then not only looking at the academic side, but looking at the social, emotional side of students, so we've tackled the whole child," says Miguel Naranjo, Lowell Elementary School Principal.
Lowell's success was not the only reason to celebrate. 67 Fresno Unified schools scored a 700 or higher, up from 62 schools last year. 14 schools scored an 800 or above.
It's progress Mayor Ashley Swearengin is proud of. "This is evidence to the rest of our community that our schools are getting better, our neighborhoods are getting better."
FUSD Superintendent Michael Hanson says, "Changing our city from the inside out or the outside in all at once is an incredible opportunity."
Francisco says he gave this year's test his best, but plans to help his school do even better next year.
"I really want to get more points for Lowell because we're just 50 points away from getting 800."
This is the seventh straight year state test scores have been on the rise in the Fresno Unified School District.